I'm really not one of those "head in the sand" people. Despite what my husband sometimes refers to as dogged optimism about people, I am usually firmly grounded in reality. Good, bad, ugly, exciting--typically I'm an "okay, so now what do I do with this?" kind of person.
But apparently, I have been in major league denial about Jake's deployment. It's not that I don't understand it; heck, we've been planning for it for months! To the extent we can, that is. The Army is not super forthcoming with the details. But we have talked through major decisions, and made plans about how to handle things while Jake's gone. We've talked about how to talk to Howie about it. I actually thought we were pretty well prepared.
I think I knew it, but I didn't really KNOW it. I guess in the back of my mind I was still hoping that the whole thing would be called off, maybe they'd get there and turn right back around because SURPRISE! The draw-down happened without them.
These aren't really me things to think, mind you. But I know I must have been thinking them, because when our Family Readiness Group leader sent me this graphic with all of the fathers' messages to their kids:
I turned into a giant blubbering puddle of a mess on my desk.
Note to self: Read Army emails at home, not at work.
Some of you might not know, but we have a small plane. Jake uses it to fly so that it's easier (though not easy) for him to come see us more often.
Howie LOVES flying with Daddy. And one of the first things Jake taught Howie about the plane was a lesson all pilots learn: before you start your engine, yell "clear" so you're sure everyone's ready (and out of the way!). That baby has been yelling clear since he learned how to yell. It was probably one of his very first words.
He even yells "clear!" on commercial flights! It's embarrassing (especially because often Howie's "L's" sound like "W's"), but I try not to shoosh him because I know it just means he misses his Daddy.
It was the absolutely perfect message for Jake to leave Howie. And it's absolutely heartbreaking.